The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings








Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London London Review
Timon of Athens

Courteous destroyers, affable wolves, meek bears-
You fools of fortune, trencher-friends, time's flies,
Cap-and-knee slaves, vapours and minute-jacks!
. . .Burn house, sink Athens, henceforth hated be
Of Timon man and all humanity
— Timon
Timon of Athens
Timon at the Globe
(Photo: John Tramper)
The director-designer team of Lucy Bailey and William Dudley tackled Titus Andronicus two years ago at the Globe and once again undertake an obscure, problematic Shakespeare play with innovative, energetic direction. Timon of Athens is rarely performed, often criticised as unbalanced, fragmentary and adulterated by playwrights other than Shakespeare. Coleridge even termed it the "stillborn twin of King Lear". Nevertheless, as this dynamic and exciting production shows, the play has been an unfortunate victim of neglect and the relevance of this moral tale of social corruption and greed still holds: the story of a man betrayed by his friends, his own naive generosity and ultimately his city, who embraces his alienation to become the paradigmatic misanthrope.

Upon first entering the Globe, the audience cannot fail to wonder at the transformation of the auditorium. A net is drawn across the upper tier of the Globe, so that the space becomes reminiscent of an oversized aviary and aerialist actors dressed in glossy black costumes lurk above the stage, chattering their teeth at the sight of gold and plunging down through the net on bungee ropes to scour the stage for prey: monetary or human. Choreographer Maxine Doyle, with help from performers Fernanda Prata and Vinícius Salles, all members of the ground-breaking, site-specific theatre company punchdrunk, add their unique physicality to the vultures' breathtaking movement.

This wake of vultures is visible for most of the action and is a brilliant visual symbol of the play's covetous, decadent society which destroys Timon. Moreover, with beautifully nuanced infiltration, the Athenians' costumes are classical but mimic the birds' wings by half-cloaks with frayed edges. By the time the money lenders appear, their full, black vulture gear does not seem incongruous. Further concretising the play's rich animalistic imagery, the marauding mob of banqueters display their sycophantic camaraderie by howling and yapping for jewels and in the final death sequence, the vultures feast on Timon like carrion, gruesomely bloodying their faces.

Strong performances from the cast prevent the aerial acrobatics from dominating the action at the expense of the text's emotional weight. In particular, Simon Paisley Day plays a sympathetic Timon with innocent liberality before his disillusionment, gently and lovingly generous rather than boosting his ego with hubristic ostentation. This makes his eventual estrangement from humanity more affecting and capably handles the play's second half, much of which is a misanthropic monologue. Bo Poraj plays the cynic Apemantus with wonderful grumpiness, clearly revelling in his asceticism and even barks "Move!" at the audience as he moves through them. Patrick Godfrey is a likeable Flavius, Timon's steward, played with plain-speaking but helpless integrity. Gary Oliver plays Alcibiades as a brute and yob, prone to gratuitous violence but also the only possible antidote to Athens' moral disease.

Fully displaying the play's raucous vein, this production has great clarity and its spirit evens out an uneven text. Moreover, its triumphant crux is that the directorial and physical innovation is integral to the play's meaning, as well as being an impressive spectacle. With its originality and articulate, intelligent energy, this Timon of Athens represents yet another success for the Globe, revitalised under Dominic Dromgoole's leadership.

Timon of Athens
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Lucy Bailey

With: Peter Bankole, Jonathan Bond, Oliver Boot, Christopher Brandon, Adam Burton, Richard Clews, Patrick Godfrey, Robert Goodale, Michael Jibson, Michael Matus, Pippa Nixon, Gary Oliver, Simon Paisley Day, Sam Parks, Bo Poraj, Fernanda Prata, Laura Rogers, Vinicius Salles, Bethan Walker, Sian Williams
Designer: William Dudley
Composer: Django Bates
Choreographer: Maxine Doyle
Running time: Two hours 35 minutes with one interval
Box Office: 020 7401 9919
Booking to 3rd October 2008
Reviewed by Charlotte Loveridge based on 6th August 2008 performance at Shakepeare's Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, London, SE1 9DT (Tube: London Bridge)
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of Timon of Athens
  • I disagree with the review of Timon of Athens
  • The review made me eager to see the Timon of Athens
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email and state if you'd like your comments published in our letters section.

London Theatre Tickets
Lion King Tickets
Billy Elliot Tickets
Mighty Boosh Tickets
Mamma Mia Tickets
We Will Rock You Tickets
Theatre Tickets
London Theatre Walks

Peter Ackroyd's  History of London: The Biography

London Sketchbook

tales from shakespeare
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
Our Review

©Copyright 2008, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from